Sunday, July 30, 2006

ROM SPACEKNIGHT

When you think of the greatest super heroes of all time, the ones that top the list are Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, Captain America and ROM!

ROM, like in Read Only Memory, ROM? No, like in greatest of the Spaceknights, ROM. That other shiny silver Marvel hero. You know, the one that came down to Earth to rid our planet of the evil Dire Wraiths that shape shifted so they could look like us. The one that was based after the first electronic action figure that was made by Parker Brothers.



Speaking of the Parker Brothers action figure, check out this amazing TV commercial. It’s so cool it will give you goose bumps.

Good, now you remember! ROM the toy was invented by Bing McCoy and was originally going to be called COBOL but Parker Brothers decided to go with the name ROM instead. You can read an excellent interview with McCoy over at the ROM Revisited site. The toy had limited movement and tiny out of scale arms, but he still looked cool enough and made all sorts of neat sounds. He breathed heavy like Darth Vader, his eyes and chest plate glowed red and his rocket pack even flickered with red energy. Plus he had three accessories a Translator, an energy analyzer and his Neutralizer.



The comic series was written by Bill Mantlo, one of the best writers that Marvel has ever had and the artist was none other than our pal Sal Buscema. These two creative geniuses clicked and made this series successful long after the toy disappeared from the toy shelves. The series lasted 75 issues and is still fun to read, even today.



This piece of original artwork is the last page from ROM Annual #2.



I love this photo from Marvel Age #23 of the Rom mascot suit. I wonder whatever happened to it? It would be the ultimate piece for the Rom collector.




With all of the comic book movies out there, maybe someone will notice ROM Spaceknight and adapt it to the big screen. It would make for an exciting film, full of emotion and angst.



Friday, July 28, 2006

SAN DIEGO COMIC-CON DAY 3: OUR LAST DAY

It was hard to believe that Saturday would be our last day at the Con. The first two days flew bye and this day wasn’t going to be any different. At least we were in the correct line to get inside this time and they let everyone in a half-hour earlier!

We visited the Vanguard booth to meet Basil Gogos the extraordinary monster artist that was responsible for some of the best Famous Monster Magazine covers. He gave me some art tips and signed an old FM along with his new book, Famous Monster Movie Art of Basil Gogos.



Before lunch we had the pleasure of meeting Kirk Demarais, the creative force behind the Secret Fun Spot website, the short film Flip and the author of the spiffy new book, Life of the Party A Visual History of the S.S. Adams Makers of Pranks & Magic For 100 Years! I ordered mine and you can do the same by clicking here. Kirk has done an amazing job and everyone will be bowled over with a wonderful wave of nostalgia from this book.


Photo by Kirk Demarais

Amazing, but true I’ve never met any of the cast members from Star Trek and luckily we had the opportunity here at the Con. The lovely Nichelle Nichols was signing photos and helping to promote a new action figure of her character Uhura. She was very nice and pleasant!



Over at the Dark Horse booth we picked up a Toucan Sam vinyl figure from their new vintage Kellogg’s line. He’s well made and will go perfectly with our collection of vintage vinyl ad figures.



I got a few things signed by Moebius and an amazing sketch in my sketchbook. It was cool meeting him especially since I’m a big Tron fan as he did some design work and storyboards for that film.



Speaking of Tron, I couldn’t leave the Con without meeting and getting a signed photo from the beautiful Cindy Morgan who played the duel role of Lora and Yori in Tron.



They were showing off some of the items for their upcoming auction over at the Profiles in History booth. We snapped a pic of the original Mighty Joe Young armature that was animated by Ray Harryausen and they also had one of the mini Atommobiles from the classic Disneyland attraction Adventure Thru Innerspace.



For us, the 2006 Comic-Con was coming to a close really fast. We took in two more panels, the Shag panel and the Spider-Man 3 panel. The Shag panel was tiki-cool as he moderated and gave a fun slide show about his background and how he became known as the artist Shag. The Spider-Man 3 panel was fun too and as a surprise they brought out the whole cast of the upcoming movie. My main thing was to see and listen to Sam Raimi. Besides talking about Spider-Man he also gave out some good film making advise and talked about an Evil Dead remake.



For us the Con was over because of an early flight back home the next morning. Every Con is different and this one was about meeting people, from seasoned comic and movie veterans to up and coming talents that will and are making their mark on the pop culture landscape. We really had a wonderful time.

Since Shag put us in a tiki sort of mood, we ventured down to the Mister Tiki Mai Tai Lounge at the Gaslamp District for some good food and drink. Mmm, the Mai Tai drinks were yummy!


Wednesday, July 26, 2006

SAN DIEGO COMIC-CON DAY 2

We started out the day waiting in the wrong line to get inside but it wasn’t a big deal since we enjoyed talking with people that were stuck in line too. One of the best things about the Con is that most people are really nice.

We checked out the Funko booth and the Flapjack Toys booth and enjoyed meeting the Chairman of Fun himself, Mike Becker. Mike is the founder of Funko and he has now started up Flapjack Toys. His new vinyl figures are out of this world and I really liked the Ivan vinyl from the Spooky Kookys line and Mike even signed the back!. You can see a groovy animated version of the SK boys here created by Mr. Secret Fun Spot, Kirk D. (I’ll talk about meeting Kirk D. on the Day 3 post).



One of the main reasons for coming to this year’s Con was to meet one person, my favorite comic book artist, John Romita. We met him over at the CGC booth and he showed up to sign and meet with fans. He was also there to promote A.C.T.O.R. an important charity that helps out comic book pros in times of need. John and his lovely wife Virginia were super nice and were so much fun to talk with. He signed some comics, my sketchbook and the Marvel book. Meeting the Romita’s made my convention!!!


I think most of my childhood was there in that overstuffed building in some form or another. I got my ticket to get in line for a chance to meet and get an autograph from Carrie Fisher and David Prowse. It was a thrill to briefly meet Carrie and get a photo signed. David was really a gentle giant and luckily since his line wasn’t very long he took the time to chat a bit and pose for a photo. The 7 year old in me was yipping for joy!



We attended the Jack Kirby panel that was moderated by Mark Evanier with Neal Adams, George Perez, Mike Royer and John Romita. Everyone shared stories about the King and the infamous Johnny Carson clip was shown where Carson makes fun of Jack, not knowing who Jack Kirby was. Paul S. Levine, Jack’s lawyer was there to tell how the problem was resolved with Johnny apologizing on the Tonight Show. Once the Kirby panel was over the John Romita panel started and we learned a great deal more about this amazing man! It was the best panel we attended!

Next we went over to meet Cassandra Peterson the one and only Elvira. She was very pleasant and took time to visit with each fan.


Since the day was coming to a close we decided to rest our feet and go to the New Line Cinema Snakes on a Plane panel in the filled to capacity Hall H. It was moderated by the very funny SNL player Keenen Thompson with Samuel L. Jackson, the director David R. Ellis and a bunch of snakes!

The last panel of the day was the very wrong and the very disturbing animated ‘toon, the Happy Tree Friends. This show is bad on so many levels and that’s its charm. You can’t help but to laugh at these cute little animals as they have their entrails and limbs ripped from their fuzzy bodies. Also, you can’t get the theme song out of your head!


After the Con, we traveled by cab to grab the best burger and fries on the planet at In-N-Out Burger. With the cost of the cab and the food, it might have been the best $40 we have ever spent! Whenever we’re in California we always take advantage and eat at one since we don’t have them in Missouri. Mmm, the Double-Doubles were yummy!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

SAN DIEGO COMIC-CON DAY 1

The official San Diego Comic-Con T-shirts should have, “I Survived Comic-Con 2006" printed on the back. That’s what we did, we survived and during all that surviving we had a blast! Comic-Con is always fun even though you feel like a ball in a pinball machine and every year it just gets bigger and bigger. Our last time at the Con was in 2004 and we noticed a big difference in the added amount of people.

At the beginning we made a b-line over to Artist Alley to meet some of the classic greats in comics and the first artist I visited with was Jim Mooney, artist of Batman, Supergirl, Spider-Man and many others. He graciously signed my sketchbook and the Marvel book.

Next in line was Luis Dominguez the prolific artist who is best remembered for his DC Mystery and War comics. We had a nice visit and he even gave us a sample of his opera singing. I had him sign an old Weird War comic, my sketchbook and the Marvel book. Arnold Drake the writer who came up with the Doom Patrol and Deadman for DC comics was sitting next to Luis and so I had him sign the Doom Patrol Archives and my sketchbook.


By this time we noticed Shag had arrived at his table and was greeting fans. Both Deb and I are fans of his work and we enjoyed meeting him. Deb chatted with him about Disneyland as he signed a few things and we were thrilled that he sketched some classic Shag images in my sketchbook. Among other things from his table we picked up the very limited Crypto-Zoological Species of North America folio set. A fun set of four prints with Sasquatch, Mothman, Chupacabra, and the Jersey Devil.

Right before lunch I got a quick sketch from the one and only Carmine Infantino in the sketchbook. It’s of the Flash, the character he helped create.


We attended Batman: The Golden/Silver Age panel hosted by Mark Evanier with Sheldon Moldoff, Jerry Robinson, Jim Mooney, Arnold Drake, Joe Giella and surprise guest Murphy Anderson. It was wonderful to see all of these comic legends in one place. The panel was very informative, but turned to the negative side when discussing Bob Kane. Afterwards everyone rushed the table wanting autographs and I was one of ‘em. I was able to get some archives signed and had my photo taken with these amazing men. Joe Giella was especially nice and I enjoyed meeting him for the first time.

After the panel we picked up a couple of autographs from some of the TV and Movie stars in the sails pavilion. We met the two Jive Dudes, Norman Gibbs and Al White from the movie Airplane! and Bobby Clark, The Gorn Captain from Star Trek the Original Series. All three were nice to visit with and the Airplane! guys kept us laughing.

We ventured back down to the exhibit hall and found Dan Goodsell’s The Imaginary World. Dan’s booth looked great and it was a hopping busy place with everyone buying T-Shirts, artwork and Mr. Toast dolls. We purchased one of his scrapbook paintings and Dan added Mr. Toast to my sketchbook. I’ve been a fan of Mr. Toast since he started showing up on Dan’s website and it was great meeting the man behind all those fun anthropomorphic characters.

That sums up Day 1 and I can say we were tuckered! We ended the day with a nice relaxing dinner at Anthony’s Fish Grotto on the Bay. Mmm, the clams were yummy!

Friday, July 14, 2006

THE MECHANICAL SMOKER

Back in second grade I remember the school nurse demonstrating on how cigarette smoke is bad for our lungs using a cardboard robot that smoked a cigarette. I’ve been searching for one for years and I finally ran across one just a few weeks ago.


This simple teaching tool really worked and that crazy robot really smoked a cigarette! It must have made an impression on me since I never took up smoking.

Now if I could only get this robot to at least cut back to just one pack a day!


OLD SCHOOL SCHOOL BOXES

Kirk’s latest post over at the Secret Fun Blog about old school school boxes inspired me to dig out the two that I have. The yellow one is from my Kindergarten days and I just recently unearthed it from my Dad’s workshop. After the school year Dad must’ve saved it from the trash and for the past 30 years it’s been holding a bunch of sandpaper. Unfortunately the lid is gone, but I’m glad is still exists! The second one I found in a flea market, but I remember having this one in the second or third grade.


Do you remember how exciting it was when you visited the store to buy your school supplies? I think we were mailed a list from the school of recommended supplies that we would need for the grade we were going into. After picking out pencils, erasers, rulers and glue it was time to pick the most important thing, the school box. I remember stacks and stacks of them at the store and it was always a hard decision on which one to pick.



I like the bottoms of both of these boxes with the Safety Patrol and the Knock Out Litterbugs messages.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

SPOOKY MAGIC

Found this little treasure in a Flea Market under a pile of Smurf and Pound Puppies books for a whopping seventy-five cents! I was leaving the store empty handed until I noticed a pile of kids books under an old beat up table. Going through the stack of 80's fluff, I didn’t expect to find anything worth buying. I was surprised that on the bottom of the stack was a nifty magic book from the 1960's. Magic trick books are always cool, but this one was even better because it was Spooky Magic! Cool beans! I didn’t have to leave the store empty handed.

The best part about Spooky Magic is the cover since the magic tricks inside are not really that spooky. The trick names are kind of fun like The Spirit Hand, The Wandering Ring, The Spirit in the Bottle and The Floating Body. I love the title font! The book was written by Larry Kettelkamp and illustrated by William Meyerriecks. This one is a 1966 7th printing published by Scholastic Books.

Here's a couple of pages from the book -
Spooky Magic Page
Spooky Magic Page
Spooky Magic Page

Monday, July 10, 2006

THE CARDBOARD ROBOT BATTLE OF 1986

Every July, I get a little nostalgic thinking good time memories of Grandma’s apple pie, listening to patriotic music, relaxing on the front porch, sipping lemon aid and BLOWING STUFF UP!!!

My best friend and I always had a tradition of "blowing stuff up" and every July for a few years we actually made 4ft tall cardboard robots that would do battle with one another. Like little mad scientists we were supposed to work on ‘em all summer and Jeff always created a thing of beauty. As for me, I usually put mine together the night before the big battle. This set of photos is from our last robot battle that took place in the year 1986 at an old dead rock quarry. Jeff’s was the gold and white robot and I had the white and gray camouflaged robot. I felt like my robot was Old Bob from the movie The Black Hole going up against the evil robot Maximilian.

The objective was to destroy the robot's bridge and whoever did this first would be the winner. The main weapons were oversized bottle rockets with two nails taped on the front in place of the nosecone. Once all the bottle rockets were used up and if your robot still survived, you were allowed to strategically place lady fingers and sparklers onto your opponent’s robot. Each robot took turns launching a rocket at the other and of course after the fuse had been lit we ran behind the closest rock we could find.




My first shot blew off his left arm!





I almost won with this strike.

The final blow! My Battle Beast crew perished in a ball of flame and my once mighty cardboard robot burned to the ground. Jeff was the winner.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

George Tuska


I just got back from a whirlwind trip out to Charlotte, North Carolina for the Heroes Comic Book Convention and I had a super-fun time! The person I wanted to meet the most from the giant guest list was George Tuska, the wonderful Golden and Silver Age artist who is 90 years young. It was a thrill for me to chat with him and especially watch him draw character after character. The man is a drawing machine and he stayed busy sketching during the whole show.

I was lucky enough to get two sketches for my sketch book and since George had a nice run working on Iron Man back in the late 60's and through the 1970's it was only natural that I asked him to do old shell head for me. I’ve always been a fan of the classic Golden Age heroes and so I picked Quality’s super hero Uncle Sam for the second sketch. I’m very pleased with both of them and I’m glad to have them in my collection.

It was nice visiting with his wife Dorothy and meeting Dewey Cassell, the author of The Art of George Tuska published by TwoMorrows Publishing. If you don’t own this book go out and buy it!! An excellent read with a treasure trove of Tuska’s art. Look under my links for the TwoMorrow’s website where you can order this fabulous book.